The Rev. Henry Schoenfield, CPE Supervisory Candidate, Bellevue Hospital

The Rev. Henry Schoenfield is a Supervisory Candidate at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan.  He is a United Church of Christ minister and a member of Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, a community known for its social activism and involvement with the performing arts. Most of his ministry has been in health care chaplaincy, particularly with the seriously ill and dying, from Emergency Rooms to Intensive Care to Home Hospice.

This interview provides a brief, yet wonderful look into the CPE process and the work of chaplaincy.  It is an excellent resource for seminarians either in CPE or who are planning to engage in CPE in the future.  Henry has completed 9 CPE units and he discusses what brought him to this unexpected work of chaplaincy and supervisory candidacy (0:53).

Based on his life and work, Henry explores the “terror of death” that is an ever-present human reality, and he emphasizes the importance of being aware of one’s own experiences with death in order to be present for those who are dying (2:45).  He explores our cultural inability to deal with death, and the ways this might manifest in our work (6:38).   He describes the quality of curiosity as critical for any pastoral encounter in a hospital (4:13).

Henry describes the mitzvah of being present to a person in their death, especially when they have no family around (7:32), and he emphasizes the importance of presence, even over ritual or prayer at certain times in pastoral encounters (8:58).

Henry describes his marvelous spiritual practice of “noticing without judging” and how this can be tremendously useful, both for patients and staff in a hospital setting (10:35).

Lastly, Henry explores the importance of having a healthy approach to ending relationships in chaplaincy work, and reminds us that as pastoral care providers we have the opportunity to model a different way of being in the world when we are able to say “goodbye” (17:24).

Chaplain Henry is a gifted Supervisory Candidate, chaplain and teacher.  It was a blessing to sit down and talk with him.  Take a listen to the words he has to offer…



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